Bushfire Safety For Travellers during the bushfire season

Bushfires can occur without warning and can quickly impact your travel route.

Being out on the road during a bushfire is extremely dangerous-last minute evacuations are a deadly option.

If you are planning to travel in the country you need to think about bushfire safety.

This leaflet will help you manage your country travel plans and help you prepare yourself and your vehicle in case a bushfire does occur.

South Australia is divided into 15 Fire Ban Districts.

Each district has its own fire danger season dates, so it is important to be aware of which district you live, travel or work in. The district's daily Fire Danger Rating and/or Total Fire Ban declaration indicates dangerous weather conditions for bushfires. 

[Map of Fire Ban Districts]

The Fire Danger Season generally runs from November to April. During the season fire restrictions and strict controls apply to the lighting of fires and the use of certain tools and machinery to reduce the chance of bushfires starting.

It is important to know which fire ban district you are visiting in order to know whether a fire ban is current and whether restrictions apply.

Refer to the CFS website for more information on the restrictions during the Fire Danger Season.

The Fire Danger Season

  Fire ban district From To
1 Adelaide Metropolitan Area 1 December 30 April
2 Mount Lofty Ranges 1 December 30 April
3 Kangaroo Island 1 December 30 April
4 Mid North 15 November 30 April
5 Yorke Peninsula 15 November 30 April
6 Murraylands 15 November 15 April
7 Riverland 15 November 15 April
8 Upper South East 15 November 15 April
9 Lower South East 22 November 30 April
10 Flinders 1 November 15 April
11 North East Pastoral 1 November 31 March
12 Eastern Eyre Peninsula 1 November 15 April
13 North West Pastoral 1 November 31 March
14 Lower Eyre Peninsula 1 November 15 April
15 West Coast 1 November 15 April

Note: These dates may change due to seasonal conditions.

Stay Alert and Informed

Travelling in the country during the bushfire season needs to be done with extreme caution and vigilance.

Check the Fire Danger Ratings in weather forecasts every day. The SA Country Fire Service (CFS) may declare Total Fire Bans in some districts or even across the whole state on days when severe weather conditions could cause fires to become uncontrollable. These are days when high temperatures, strong northerly winds and low humidity occur. Total Fire Bans and Fire Danger Ratings aren't a prediction of how likely a bushfire is to happen, but tell us how bad a bushfire could be if it did start on that day.

On Days Of High Fire Danger

On days of high fire danger or Total Fire Ban, it is best to postpone a trip into the bush because of the dangers of fire starting and moving rapidly. If your travel or activities place you in areas of high risk, can you postpone your trip or plan an alternative route? Can a work-related job be done on another day or in another location? Did your plans involve activities or tools banned on a Total Fire Ban day? Do you know where is the safest place to relocate?

Fires Can Threaten Suddenly And Without Warning

Watch for signs of fire, especially smoke and flames

Know the Fire Danger Rating in your area and be aware of local conditions

Have your Bushfire Survival Plan and kit ready

Call 000 to report a fire

To Seek Information

  • listen to local radio,
  • go to www.cfs.sa.gov.au, or
  • call the Bushfire Information Hotline on 1300 362 361 (TTY 133 677)
Danger rating What does it mean? What should I do?
Total Fire Ban
  • These are the worst conditions for a bush or grass fire
  • If a fire starts and takes hold, it will be extremely difficult to control and will take significant firefighting resources and cooler conditions to bring it under control
  • Spot fires will start well ahead of the main fire and cause rapid spread of the fire. Embers will come from many directions
  • Homes are not designed or constructed to withstand fires in these conditions
  • The safest place to be is away from bushfire prone areas.

You Need To Act Now

  • Put your survival first and leave bushfire prone areas the night before or early in the day-this is your safest option
  • Act immediately-do not wait and see
  • Avoid forested areas, thick bush or long, dry grass
  • Prepare, know and practise a plan for:
    • when you will leave
    • where you will go
    • how you will get there
    • when you will return
    • what you will do if you cannot leave
Total Fire Ban
  • These are very hot, dry and windy conditions for a bush or grass fire.
  • If a fire starts and takes hold, it will be unpredictable, move very fast and very difficult for fire fighters to bring under control.
  • Spot fires will start and move quickly. Embers may come from many directions.
  • Homes that are prepared to the highest level, have been constructed to bushfire protection levels and are actively defended may provide safety.
  • You must be physically and mentally prepared to defend in these conditions.
  • The safest place to be is away from bushfire prone areas.

You Need To Get Ready To Act .

  • Only stay with your property if you are prepared to the highest level. This means your home needs to have been constructed to bushfire protection levels e.g.; enclosed eaves, covers over external air conditioners, metal flyscreens etc.
  • You must be well prepared and able to actively defend your home if a fire starts. This means you have the right equipment and resources to put out fires around your home e.g.; enough water supply, petrol/diesel portable pump, generator, protective clothing etc.
  • If you are not prepared to the highest level, leaving bushfire prone areas early in the day is your safest option.
Total Fire Ban
  • These are hot, dry and possibly windy conditions for a bush or grass fire.
  • If a fire starts and takes hold, it will be hard for fire fighters to bring under control.
  • Well prepared homes that are actively defended can provide safety.
  • You must be physically and mentally prepared to defend in these conditions.

You Need To Be Aware

  • Well prepared homes that are actively defended can provide safety. This means you have the right equipment and resources to put out fires around your home e.g.; enough water supply, petrol/diesel portable pump, generator, protective clothing etc.
  • If you are not prepared, leaving bushfire prone areas early in the day is your safest option.
Very high
  • If a fire starts, it is likely to be controlled in these conditions and homes can provide safety.
  • Be aware of how fires can start and reduce the risk. .
  • Check your Bushfire Survival Plan.
  • Monitor conditions.
  • Action may be needed.
  • Leave if necessary.
Low- moderate

Hierarchy Of Bushfire Safer Places In SA

CFS has developed a hierarchy of places that can offer relative safety from bushfire. It is important that you know what each of these are, where they are, and what risk you may be exposed to if you use one of these options during a bushfire. More detail can be found on the CFS website, www.cfs.sa.gov.au

 Hierarchy of Bushfire Safer Places in South Australia
Safest Bushfire Safer Place Adelaide Metropolitan area, outer suburbs and rural settlements

If you need to relocate early.

Suitable for use during forecast bad fire weather or during bushfire. May be subject to spark and ember attack and smoke.

Least Safe Last Resort Refuge Designated ovals and buildings in rural areas.

If your plan has failed.

Not suitable for extended use and may provide only limited protection during bushfire.

If You Need To Use Your Vehicle as a Shelter From a Bushfire

  • Find a clearing away from dense bush and flammable material on the ground, such as branches and leaves.
  • Park the vehicle off the roadway to avoid collisions in poor visibility.
  • Face the vehicle towards the oncoming fire front.
  • Turn headlights and hazard warning lights on.
  • Tightly close all windows and doors.
  • Stay inside your vehicle-it offers the best protection from the radiant heat.
  • Shut all the air vents and turn the air conditioning off.
  • Turn the engine off.
  • Get down below the window level into the foot wells and shelter under woollen blankets.
  • Drink water to minimise the risks of dehydration.

As The Fire Front Passes

During a bushfire the critical time for personal safety is during the 5 to 10 minutes it takes for the fire front to pass.

  • Stay in the vehicle until the fire front has passed.
  • Fuel tanks are very unlikely to explode.
  • Smoke gradually gets inside the vehicle and fumes will be released from the interior of the vehicle. Stay as close to the floor as possible to minimise inhalation and cover mouth with a cloth.
  • Tyres and external plastic body parts may catch alight. In more extreme cases the vehicle interior may catch on fire.
  • Once the front has passed and the temperature has dropped, cautiously exit the vehicle (be careful-internal parts will be extremely hot).
  • Move to a safe area such as a strip of land that has already burnt.
  • Stay covered in woollen blankets, continue to drink water and wait for assistance.

Travelling on the Road

Prepare. Ensure you and your vehicle are ready

Keep several woollen blankets, protective clothing, boots, a first aid kit and a supply of fresh water in your vehicle, just in case you are caught in a bushfire.

Be aware of bushfires before you commence your journey, plan an alternative route and do not travel to the affected area. If you come across smoke while travelling, turn around and go back. Listen to the radio and ask locally for help to find a safe way through.

Act. In the event of a bushfire

Remain vigilant of your surroundings, and follow any advice or directions provided by emergency services personnel or via an emergency broadcast on local radio (see below for frequencies).

Let someone know your plans and how to contact you.

As the fire front passes, properties will be subject to radiant heat, fame contact, ember attack, smoke, loud noise, darkness, and power failure.

Survive. Protect yourself from radiant heat

Radiant heat can kill. To protect yourself, you need to cover up, dress appropriately and take refuge.

Solid structures and appropriate clothing may provide protection from radiant heat. It cannot penetrate solid objects, which means your best protection is in a well- prepared house or structure if you are unable to leave the area before the fire starts.

Cover all exposed skin in natural fibres (e.g. wool, cotton) to protect from radiant heat.

To report a fire, call 000-for emergency warnings and alerts, tune into one of our emergency broadcast partners:

SA Emergency Broadcast Partners: ABC Local Radio, FIVEaa Radio, Sky News Television, WIN Television, Commercial Radio Australia

 Radio Frequencies in South Australia
Town/Region Station Radio Frequency
Adelaide 891 ABC Adelaide 891 AM
Adelaide Cruise 1323 1323 AM
Adelaide FIVEaa 1395 AM
Adelaide Nova 91.9 91.9 FM
Adelaide Mix 102.3 102.3 FM
Adelaide Triple M 104.7 FM
Adelaide SA FM 107.1 FM
Andamooka ABC North & West 105.9 FM
Ceduna Flow FM 106.1 FM
Clare/Mid North Flow FM 107.5 FM
Coober Pedy ABC North & West 106.1 FM
Coober Pedy Flow FM 99.7 FM
Cook ABC North & West 107.7 FM
Coonalpyn Flow FM 97.7 FM
Glendambo ABC North & West 106.1 FM
Kapunda/Barossa Flow FM 99.5 FM
Kingscote Flow FM 95.5 FM
Kingston SE Flow FM 107.3 FM
Leigh Creek Coalfield ABC North & West 99.3 FM
Leigh Creek South ABC North & West 1602 AM
Maitland Flow FM 90.9 FM
Marree ABC North & West 105.7 FM
Minlaton Flow FM 98.9 FM
Mintabie ABC North & West 88.7 FM
Mt Barker Power FM 100.3 FM
Mt Gambier 5SE 963 AM
Mt Gambier Star FM 96.1 FM
Murray Bridge 5MU 1125 AM
Murray Bridge Power FM 98.7 FM
Naracoorte ABC South East 1161 AM
Naracoorte Star FM 100.9 FM
North Mt Gambier ABC South East 1476 AM
Oodnadatta ABC North & West 95.3 FM
Padthaway East Flow FM 100.3 FM
Pinnaroo Flow FM 96.5 FM
Port Augusta 5AU 1242 AM
Port Lincoln 5CC 765 AM
Port Lincoln ABC Eyre Peninsula 1485 AM
Port Lincoln Magic FM 89.9 FM
Port Pirie ABC North & West 639 AM
Prominent Hill Flow FM 91.3 FM
Riverland 5RM 801 AM
Riverland ABC Riverland 1062 AM
Riverland Magic FM 93.1 93.1 FM
Roxby Downs Flow FM 97.9 FM
Roxby Downs ABC North & West 102.7 FM
Streaky Bay ABC Eyre Peninsula 693 AM
Streaky Bay Flow FM 99.3 FM
Victor Harbor Power FM 99.7 FM
Woomera ABC North & West 1584 AM
Woomera Flow FM 101.7 FM
Wudinna Flow FM 106.9 FM
Yalata ABC North & West 105.9 FM